The New York Times has a great panel of architects, planners, and economists discussing car free living. What is most surprising are the comments left be people who live without a car in places like Phoenix, Scottsdale, Houston, and small cities throughout the country. The number of people who would like to live without a car is also amazing.
While Baltimore doesn’t have the best transit, it has good “bones”. This means small blocks, grid street networks, relatively high densities and lots of small, local streets where walking and biking feels safe. This counts for a lot. While federal and state funding for green infrastructure is increasing, I think it will take a fundamental change in how we build cities in order to make going car free less of a dramatic lifestyle change in the U.S. Developers and local politicians have to get used to mixed use projects and increased densities. Cities and counties will need more versitile zoning codes and better land conservation ordinances. The public also has to see the benefits of getting out of their cars – at least for short periods of time at first. This means educating people about options they may have never considered in the first place.
Thanks to Nate Evans for lending me a bike until I buy my own. I’d like to make it clear that this is not an ideological crusade, but a practical option. Life is ultimately an experiment; I grew up in a station wagon riding to suburban malls in New Jersey. Now, I’d like to try something else.